Knife-wielding Palestinian girl, 14, arrested at checkpoint


Israeli soldiers arrested a teenage girl who approached a checkpoint near Jerusalem holding a knife.

The girl, 14 according to the Ma’an news agency, approached the Qalandiya checkpoint on Thursday evening while holding the knife in her right hand and wearing a white cloth over her mouth.

video released by Israeli authorities shows an Israeli officer spraying mace into her face before wrestling her to the ground and subduing her.

According to Israel Today, Border Police officers fired warning shots in the air when they saw her approaching, but she kept walking toward them. The paper reported she was from Beit Duqu near Ramallah.

Earlier Thursday, a 20-year-old man from Jerusalem was arrested on suspicion that he stole a firearm from a security guard for the city’s light rail and concealed it in a garbage container.

Palestinian officials have attributed recent disturbances and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem in part to Israel allowing some Knesset members to visit the Temple Mount, a Jerusalem compound containing sites holy both to Jews and to Muslims.

Israeli officials blame Palestinian incitement for the attacks.

Khaled Meshal, a leader of Hamas, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “playing with fire” when he allowed the Temple Mount visits.

“When he [Netanyahu] allows members of his government, the Knesset and the extremists to repeatedly storm the al-Aksa mosque, that’s dangerous,” Meshal said in an interview aired Friday by Sky News. “Our fight is a national fight, but he is turning it into a religious fight.”

Meshal blamed Netanyahu for the Nov. 18 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinian assailants murdered four worshippers and a policeman, saying it was an expression of “Palestinian anger.”

Palestinian driver killed attempting to run West Bank checkpoint


A Palestinian driver was killed as he tried to run over Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint.

Another Palestinian in the minivan and an Israeli civilian also were injured in the Tuesday afternoon incident.

The driver was seriously wounded when an Israeli soldier opened fire as the vehicle attempted to overrun the Eyal checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Kalkilya. He later died of his wounds.

The minivan had Israeli license plates and held several Palestinian passengers without documentation reportedly attempting to enter Israel illegally, according to The Jerusalem Post. They were arrested and taken for questioning.

Several reported wounded in riots in support of jailed Palestinians


Several people were injured in West Bank protests staged in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly wounded on Feb. 15 near Baytuniya checkpoint north of Jerusalem. Several hundred protesters pelted the checkpoint with stones and other objects, the news site Ynet reported.

Several of the demonstrators were also wounded and some inhaled tear gas fired by the Israeli troops

According to Army Radio, the crowd gathered at the checkpoint in solidarity with several Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike at nearby Ofer Prison.

One of them is Samer al Issawi, who is being held indefinitely under administrative detention rules.

A resident of the eastern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Isawiya, he was one of the 1,027 Palestinians released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier whom Hamas abducted in 2006 and held until 2011.

Most of the prisoners were released to the Gaza Strip, although many were from the West Bank.

According to reports in Palestinian media, el Issawi was arrested for breaking the condition of his release by visiting the West Bank.

Other rallies were reported in Hebron, at the Jalame crossing north of Jenin, at Nebi Salah, as well as in Qalandia north of Jerusalem.

Palestinian carrying seven bombs stopped at checkpoint


Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley discovered seven homemade bombs on the body of a Palestinian man.

The Palestinian, 19, from Nablus, attempted to cross the checkpoint Wednesday with the bombs as well as several knives, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

He planned to attack either Israeli citizens or soldiers during the intermediate days of Passover, which is a busy vacation season in Israel.

He was searched at the checkpoint after acting suspiciously, Ynet reported. He also had set off the metal detector.

It is at least the third time in recent months that a Palestinian planning to carry out a terrorist attack has been caught at the same checkpoint.

Palestinian, 19, wounded during checkpoint protest


A Palestinian man was seriously wounded during a protest that became violent at a West Bank checkpoint.

The 19-year-old Palestinian was struck in the head Monday by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Ramallah. He was taken to surgery and is in critical condition, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news service.

He reportedly was part of a group of young Palestinians who threw stones at Israeli soldiers at the Atara checkpoint. They were demonstrating to mark the second anniversary of the death of a Palestinian family killed in an accident when their car crashed into an Israeli military jeep.

The soldiers did not use live fire when trying to disperse the rioters, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel’s Sundance Pics Garner Praise


These are hard times and good times for Israel’s movie industry. Major international films crews have all but abandoned the Jewish State as an on-site location since Brad Pitt and Robert Redford scuttled plans some three years ago to shoot “Spy Game” around Haifa and switched to Morocco instead.

The intifada has also scared off Hollywood celebrities (with very few exceptions), who used to pop up at Israeli film festivals and award ceremonies.

In their isolation, however, Israeli producers and directors have come up with a number of films that have garnered acclaim and awards at film festivals in the United States, Europe, Japan and Argentina.

There is some hope that “Nina’s Tragedies” can extend the streak at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, during the Jan. 15-25 event.

Two other Israeli films will be screened at Sundance, and at least two more at the affiliated SchmoozeDance, the Jewish festival, on Jan. 16.

“Nina’s Tragedies,” subtitled “A Very Sad Comedy,” is directed and written by Savi Gabizon (“Lovesick on Nana Street”) and won 11 Israeli Academy Awards. It is Israel’s entry for foreign-language film Oscar honors and is given a slim outside chance to qualify as one of the five finalists for the big prize.

With its multitude of characters and subplots, it’s not an easy movie to summarize.

Basically, it revolves around the real and fantasy lives of Nadav (Aviv Elkabeth), a nerdy-looking 13-year-old, whose sexual awakening is stimulated by peeping through windows, but whose overriding obsession is on his beautiful aunt Nina (Ayelet July Zorer).

When Nina’s husband Haimon (Yoram Hatav) is killed on reserve army duty, Nadav’s highest hopes are fulfilled when he is asked to move in with the aunt to help out the disconsolate widow.

However, his elation is short-lived as handsome and sensitive photographer Avinoam (Alan Aboutbul) wins Nina’s affection and bedspace. Nina has some additional problems, when she spots her late husband, or his doppelganger, walking stark naked down the city streets.

Meanwhile, back at Nadav’s home, his fashion designer mother has kicked her increasingly religious husband out of the apartment. He joins a Chabad-like group, whose members dance in the streets to reclaim secular Jews for the faith.

There are more characters, including an adult peeping tom and his kooky Russian girlfriend, but despite it all, Nadav survives and even grows up a bit by learning about the nature of love, sexuality and family.

Both the acting and direction are well-above average, but what strikes the Diaspora viewer is the yuppyish tone and setting of the film. Just about everybody seems to live in an elegantly furnished apartment, wear stylish clothes, patronize upscale cafes and never worry about money.

Surely, Israelis are entitled to some escapist fare in these times, but it is odd how many Israeli movies fall into the same category.

As Hannah Brown writes in her Jerusalem Post review of recent Israeli movies, they “are set in a bizarre vacuum, a kind of ghost landscape, in which there are no wars, no Palestinians, no hourly news broadcasts or newspapers, no political discussions, no army service.”

An exception is the excellent “Yossi & Jagger,” which was honored at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Though the film’s focus is on the understated homosexual relationship between two army officers in combat, “Yossi & Jagger” astutely explore the real problems facing Israel’s younger generation.

Judging by the plot summaries, at least three of the four Israeli films to be shown in Park City also deal with real life in the Jewish State.

“The Garden,” which is having its world premiere at Sundance, tackles the unusual and unexplored problem of gay Palestinian teenagers, rejected by their own families, who cross the Green Line to work as male prostitutes in downtown Tel Aviv, in constant danger of deportation.

“Checkpoint,” also at Sundance, centers on one of the most grating symbols of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the road checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers to prevent terrorist infiltration.

To the Arab population, the checkpoints are constant and humiliating reminders. The film won a top award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival.

Set for the SchmoozeDance festival are “Do They Catch Children Too?” and “My Mom, the General.”

The first focuses on Israel’s foreign workers, mainly Asians, and the lives and fears of their children.

Apparently a bit more light-hearted is “My Mom, the General,” in which director Shevi Rosenfeld records the doings of her 59-year-old mother, and grandmother of six, who decides to volunteer for reserve service on the army’s front lines.

For more information about the Sundance Festival, visitwww.sundance.org .

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